Peace

Anxious For Nothing

peace

 

Anxiety. Worry. Stress.

There are several words to describe these feelings that so many of us are so accustomed to. Life is hard. We all face circumstances in which we are uncertain. Our troubles in this world are not few. Worry is only natural, right?

Well, Scripture doesn’t seem to think so. Paul says in Philippians 4:6,“…do not be anxious for anything.” Jesus too, in Matthew 6:25 says, “…do not be anxious about your life.” Then again in verse 34 he says, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself, sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” I’m not sure about you, but at first glance verse 34 isn’t all that comforting. Jesus doesn’t say, “Don’t worry, things are fine. Trouble is a thing of the past…Life is smooth sailing from now on guys.” No, Jesus doesn’t deny the reality of trouble and suffering, yet he still tells us not to be anxious.

So, how can he say this?

As I’ve been mulling this question over in my mind the past few days, my mind goes back to the beginning of Matthew 6. I think prayer is the key. As Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, the first two verses of the Lord’s prayer goes like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

I believe our peace of mind is rooted in these two verses. We have a sovereign God who rules the universe. Nothing happens to us that doesn’t pass through his almighty fingers. I used to read these two verses as if they were simply a petition, “Our Father, may your name be hallowed…may your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” But the more I think about it, I believe these verses are more a statement of fact. The only reason we can finish out the Lord’s prayer, the only reason we can pray at all is because the will of God is indeed done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Sometimes it’s hard to see this. Sometimes we can’t figure out what God is doing. Still, the Bible assures us that God always has our best interests at heart. (Romans 8:28) When we see things from this perspective, we can indeed rest in the promises of God…We can cease our worries and put away our anxiousness.

I suppose though, the question becomes, how can we keep this perspective? How can we keep our mind focused firmly on these promises? I believe the key is prayer. Like I said, Matthew 6:34 is only possible in light of Matthew 6:9-10. In much the same way, in Philippians 4:6, when Paul says,“…do not be anxious about anything…” he follows up that statement by telling us to pray, “...but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Our peace of mind comes from our knowledge that we have a good God who is sovereign over all. Many times in life we loose this perspective, this is why prayer is so key. If we continually are seeking God in prayer, we will be continually reminded of who God is. As we pray the words of Jesus from the Lord’s prayer, we remember that indeed our God is sovereign, and in total control. Therefore his name is worthy to be praised.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation…” Psalm 42:5

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

 

I’ve Been to the Mountaintop

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., From the Speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” delivered the night before he was assassinated.

Comfort in Buddha?

“For me, this story is inspiring because it means that, through our own effort, the peaceful contentment we see in statues of the Buddha is within the reach of all of us.” ~Toni Bernhard

This quote came up in my Facebook feed this morning. The story that is being referred to is that of the ‘Buddha’. Most of know this story, but if not, it isn’t hard to do a quick internet search to find out more about his story.

I’ve been discussing over the last several months with a few of my friends and co-workers the similarities¬† and differences between some of the eastern religions in general, buddhism in particular, and Christianity. I think the above quote is the key to understanding the differences.

The difference between Christianity and every other major religion is this. They are about what we do or our effort…Christianity is about what Christ has done, and is doing. How some people find comfort in the fact that the state of their souls rests in their own effort I’ll never know. Granted, some people have tried to turn Christianity into this type of religion, but it simply is not that. More effort does not equal more holiness…If Christ is yours, you are His, you are holy. Period. This knowledge and His Spirit will change you into His likeness.

There are many beautiful concepts in other religions…I would even say there are things we can learn from the adherents of these faiths.

The fact is though, there is no comfort in the fact that through our own effort we can attain peace nor contentment. This is not a fact. This is a falsehood. The truth is that God Himself did what we could never do, and attained peace for us. Contentment only comes through Christ. Only in Christ is the life of God within reach. It is through our getting to know Him that we can be comforted.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus the Christ, The Sermon on the Mount.

At the Inn…

I penned this while sitting in the hotel room in Chapel Hill just before taking my daughter to the Doctor.

Sitting at the Inn, just me and my girls,
I marvel at the grace within God’s beautiful world.
Hustle and bustle of the street down below,
so much chaos as the cars come and they go.
Yet, I can have peace inside, no matter what life brings.
On a morning like this, my heart wants to sing.
To the world that’s outside, you must know…
For this rotten, rescued sinner…It is well with my soul.